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Notes on Sermon preached at PCF 12 June 2011
We have seen in the previous chapter Jesus as Lord over nature, over the demonic and over sickness and death. We have seen him teaching the kingdom of God. Now we see one of the great thrusts of the ministry of Jesus: the training, equipping and releasing of the twelve into ministry.
The Main Task
It is easy to lose sight of one the great achievements of the three years of Jesus ministry. He came to teach the good news of the Kingdom of God, and, of course, he came to die on the cross. But he had a legacy: the legacy was his band of twelve apostles (eleven after Judas was gone) who were the foundation of His church. As a result his job was to train them and to release them into the job that they, and all his disciples would do down the ages. What was the job? To carry on doing exactly what Jesus had done.
Let us never forget what our main task is: it is to be the means by which the good news of Jesus is preached to the masses. We are an outward looking community, a mission community, and here, the first disciples get their first chance to have a go at it.
The Mission Trip
It is fascinating to observe how Jesus trained his disciples. Having had them with Him whilst he was preaching , teaching and healing, he then commissions them to have a go at the same thing. He trains his disciples in exactly the same way today. He puts us in mission situations where we have to trust him and rely on his resources.
The Mad Tetrarch
We are re-introduced to the great tyrant of Jewish society, Herod. Since we last met him he has murdered John the Baptist, and he will, about a year later, be a part of the unholy conspiracy that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. Luke positions this mention of Herod here to draw attention to the fact that it is as the ministry of Jesus is multiplied that word about what is happening increases. Now there are twelve “little Jesus-es” out there doing the job. The potential for the message is immense.
The Master’s Time
At the end of every training program there is a debrief. Jesus disciples excitedly gather around Him and report back on what had happened. As a part of the debrief, it is time report back to Jesus, receive his encouragement, his rebuke for what has gone wrong and his directions for the future. We need to avoid the risk of becoming so busy about the Lord’s work that we omit to spend time with Him.
However, right in the middle of the debrief comes the crowd! Notice how Jesus always has time for the masses even though he is on retreat with his leaders. An effective leader does both.
The Multitude’s Hunger
The great story about the five thousand comes in the context of Jesus spending time with His leaders. And, as always, an ordinary situation is turned into a learning opportunity for the disciples. The crowd need some food, and Jesus invited the disciples to provide for them. It appears that the twelve should have been able to deal with the situation themselves, but as it often the case they didn’t quite get the point!
So Jesus takes the meagre offering that is there and uses it to feed the crowds. The obvious message is that trust in God means that the needs of the masses can be met with even the smallest of resources. The deeper meanings have been well taught but are worth repeating.
The resources are offered to Jesus: even the smallest of resources can be used in the hands of Jesus, but it does have to be offered to Jesus first. Am I prepared to offer Jesus what I have, even if it is really little. Is my time, my money, my car, my home my life – however insignificant it may seem – offered to Jesus?
The resources are taken by Jesus: there is nothing that is too small to Jesus – the loaves and fishes are offered – they are also accepted!
The resources are broken by Jesus: it is necessary for what is offered to Jesus to be broken in His hand. This is where the problem comes in. I ay want to be used by Jesus – but am I also prepared to be broken by him. This may involved pain, loss and diasappointment – but the prize is worth it!
He offers the resources: taken and broken by Him, what has been offered is able to satisfy the needs of the hungry.
Do you want to be used by Jesus to meet the needs of others? Do you want to be used by him to reach the masses? We need to offer ourselves to him afresh, knowing that He will not ignore us, however small we are. We need to be prepared for Him to deal with us as he wants to mould us into the shape he wants. And we may expect that, like these twelve men, he will use us to reach many others.
Are we available?